Non-GMO Goodies Courtesy of Bestowed

When the kind folks at Bestowed contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their snack boxes, I initially put up a mild protest.  With my food intolerances, I have stopped receiving any such subscription boxes because I just don’t know what I’ll be able to enjoy.  Understanding my limitations, Bestowed’s team assured me I could enjoy and review the items that were safe for me and gift the other items.  Plus, October (the box of the month they sent me) was non-GMO month, which meant all products included were non-GMO verified.  Since I am a sucker for non-GMO products, I was in!

Provided box photo

And I really am, you know.  A sucker for non-GMO products, I mean.  The issue of genetically modified organisms, and most importantly, of clear and accurate labeling and identification of GMO products is one I care a great deal about.  I personally do my best to avoid GMO items, but beyond that I strongly believe that consumers should be able to identify GMOs and make those informed decisions for themselves.  So taking the opportunity to learn more about and support companies in alignment with these values seemed like the right thing to do.

As you likely have gathered by now, Bestowed is a subscription snack box service that delivers packages directly to your door each month.  One thing that makes Bestowed unique from other similar services is that the company was founded by a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist, Heather Bauer.  Heather draws upon her knowledge and passion for nutrition to guide the selection of Bestowed’s featured products.

Provided item photo

Let’s take a look at what I received in my non-GMO Bestowed box:

  1. UNREAL Peanut Butter Cups – I gifted these to Mr. Move Eat Create since they did contain quite a bit of dairy and I’m trying my best to live dairy-free these days.  He thought they were delicious (and he is somewhat of a peanut butter cup aficionado).  I love the concept that the UNREAL company is working with – recreations of classic candy made with natural ingredients.  It’s certainly something I can get behind.
  2. Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Mix – Yum!!  I am a huge fan of Enjoy Life products.  This brand is made for people like me (people with food intolerances) and is always satisfying.  This mix was a terrifically healthy snack by a brand I already trusted.  Score!
  3. FiberLove Cinnamon Raisin Bar (Gnu Foods) – I’ve got to admit this made me a little sad.  I actually used to eat these bars all the time in my pre-gluten free days and it made me nostalgic.  Needless to say, it was gifted.  However, I can attest from good, recent memory that these bars are delicious, satisfying, and make for a great afternoon bite on the go.
  4. The Good Bean Smoky Chili & Lime Chickpea Snacks – Eh.  I don’t understand the thrill of roasted chickpeas.  If you like this sort of thing, they’re great – they’re just not my favorite.
  5. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder – Fantastic.  Love it.  Hemp powder is amazing.
  6. Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate Macaroon Granola – Sigh.  Something else I used to love, but sadly this granola is not gluten-free.  If you can eat gluten, I do highly recommend Nature’s Path Love Crunch products.  They’re excellent on their own, in yogurt, soy or almond milk, et cetera.  It’s good stuff.
  7. Ultima Replenisher – Always an excellent choice for a runner, such as myself.  Makes a great drink on a long run kind of day.
  8. Way Better Snacks Black Bean Tortilla Chips – These got me very excited.  I recently discovered Way Better Snacks and am a big fan.  These come as close to clean eating as you can get in a chip and I really love these when I’m craving something salty.  Delicious and packed with super foods.
  9. Bonuses: A recipe and a Women’s Health Magazine voucher.

Overall, I was impressed by the contents of the Bestowed box.  There was a variety of quality products and I loved that the box came with a printed booklet that included information about each of the items and the companies featured.  I also appreciate that most of the items are available for individual purchase through the Bestowed website in case you love something that you can’t find available locally.  For me personally, solely because of my food restrictions, it wouldn’t be a good idea to invest in a monthly service.  I feel it might be a bit risky and am afraid I wouldn’t get to enjoy all of the items.  If I didn’t have those restrictions, however, I would most definitely consider joining up with Bestowed on a regular basis.

Of course, when I do a review of a product or service I support, I want to be sure that you all can benefit, too.  So, if you are interested in trying out Bestowed for yourself, you can do so with a discount of 50% off your first box!  To order your own shipment, visit Bestowed here and enter coupon code HELLOTEN103 (offer valid only until 11/20).  Happy snacking!

Last Day for Warrior Pose Book Giveaway!

bookJust a shout out to alert everyone that today is the last day to enter the giveaway for your own copy of Warrior Pose:  How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life.

Who needs a little summer reading???

Head on over to my book review and leave a comment by midnight (PST) in order to enter to win.

Vegan Cuts: In Which I Tell You How Much I Love Them and Then Host A Giveaway!

If you spend much time poking around the internet, you may have noticed that there are loads of companies these days cashing in on the monthly subscription box concept.  The idea behind this is basically that you (the consumer) pay a monthly fee to be shipped a box full of mystery products once per month to sample.  It gives the consumer a sense of surprise and fun, plus the ability to try new things.  I liked this idea for a long time, but wanted to be sure that I found a subscription club that I could trust to not let me down.  Even though unsubscribing is always an option at any time, I still wanted to find something to enjoy for a while.  It is truly disappointing to wait to get your package in the mail, open it up with excitement and then see little in it that interests you.  That is not a good time.

But, I’ve found Vegan Cuts and Vegan Cuts IS a good time.


They have totally made me a believer in the genius of the monthly subscription mystery box process.  I had tried another very popular program and was disappointed, but wanted to give it another try with someone else and I’m so glad I did.  I have received 3 boxes from Vegan Cuts so far and have been delighted with each one.  They have been filled with quality products, suiting my lifestyle and dietary preferences by the nature of the products they carry, and I have discovered some really fantastic items that I doubt I would have before.

Plus, it’s just plain fun.  I’ve always been the type of person that loves getting mail (when it’s not a bill or a jury summons, that is).  It really is like getting a little present sent to me each month and seeing it on my doorstep is always a bright spot in my day.  The majority of the items are food products, but I’ve also received body and skin care items, which is an extra special indulgence.

Benefit Foods Vbar Box_FB Store

My favorite discovery so far has been Vbars.  I am a BIG fan of nutritious, minimally processed snack bars.  I made a list a while back of some of my favorites, which you can see here, though if I was going to make this list again today, Vbars would definitely be on it.  They are unbelievably tasty, hit the right nutritional notes for me, and have a slightly crunchy texture that I love.  YUM.  I was also was excited to try the Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips that came in my most recent package.  Sweet potatoes aren’t normally my favorite, but clearly I have been eating them wrong, because these are fantastic.

One of the things I particularly like about Vegan Cuts is that they have an online storefront where items received in your box can be purchased individually if you find something you love.  I jumped on this opportunity with the Vbars and have already ordered two boxes of them.  It is nice to get to experiment with these products and then have immediate access to get the items that stand out to you.

Clearly, I’m a fan of this company.

I became even a bigger fan when they generously agreed to give away one Vegan Cuts box to a reader!  I’m delighted to be able to share the love with one of you and hope that someone else will have as much fun with this as I am having.  The winner will be selected at random and will be shipped their very own Vegan Cuts box for one month.

To enter to win your Vegan Cuts box, simply leave a comment below telling me what kind of treat you would hope to find in your mystery box. You can check out their partner companies at the website here for more ideas on what they may send.  This giveaway will close at midnight (PST) on Wednesday May 8th, and I will announce the winner later in the week.

***** UPDATE: This giveaway has closed.  Congratulations to Brooke who won the Vegan Cuts box.  Thank you to everyone who participated! *****

Gear Basics: 6 Essentials To Get You Running

Spring is here.  Dare I say that?  I hope I didn’t just jinx it back into hiding.

Warmer weather and longer days lend themselves to encouraging people outdoors – to the trails, the track, the pavement.  For those who are returning to the outdoors for the sake of running or for those considering a running routine for the first time, I offer you some tips on what you need to get started successfully.

It’s been said time and time again that one of the wonderful things about running is that you don’t need much to do it.  Put on some shoes and go!  And, while this is technically true, a few additional items can help to increase overall performance and enjoyment – both essential to sticking with it.

Me at start - sharpened a bit

Please note that I’m not going to discuss shoes in this post, because of course you know you need shoes to run in (unless you’re going all-out barefoot and, in that case, there are lots of resources for how to do that safely).  Plus, there are so many different types and styles specific to each individual runner.  So, on the issue of shoes, I will just say this: seek out a running store, not a big box retail chain, if you can to buy shoes.  You’ll get expert advice tailored to your needs by real runners and your money will be better spent.  You can also check out one of many running shoe guides like this one here from Runner’s World.

The Basics: Enough to Get Out & Go

  1. Clothes that wick

Ahhhhh.  Wicking technology.  It’s a glorious thing.  To get out and run comfortably you’re going to need some proper running clothes and proper running clothes wick.  You’re going to sweat, even in mild temperatures, and the last thing you will want is to feel that sweat trapped on your body as you’re striding along.  So while cotton is great for everyday, it is a runner’s enemy (chafing and perspiration-soaked clothes are nobody’s friend).  Look for items that have wicking technology, or at least include cotton as only a minor part of the overall material blend.

Fit is also highly important.  You don’t want anything so tight it will be restrictive during your run, but you also don’t want to wear something so oversized that it’ll flap around you (that’s just distracting and, frankly, not aero-dynamic whatsoever).  Depending on the climate that you’re running in you may need:

  • A comfortable pair of running shorts or capri pants.  Look for pairs with small pockets in them.  You’re going to need a place to store a house key or other small items and a good pocket means you don’t have to worry about buying and wearing an additional item to do so.
  • Long, heat trapping running pants
  • A sleeveless or short sleeve breathable top
  • A long-sleeve breathable top (or a lightweight jacket)

My All-Around Favorites:

  • Oiselle brand for women is absolutely amazing.  Materials, fit, and style are unsurpassed.  I shared my love for them once before here.


    Best Running Shorts Ever

  • For women and men, I also like Brooks.  Excellent quality and a brand that really focuses on knowing runners’ needs.

My Favorites for Those on a Limited Budget:

Building a running wardrobe can be expensive at first, so if you’re on a tight budget check out Target for tops.  Their lines may not be as durable as some of the other brands, but they’ll get you started.  Also, I’ve had some success scouring racks at discount shops, like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx.  They carry a surprising amount of Adidas, Nike, and other big name brands at deeply discounted prices.

  1. A hat

This one’s simple, really, but will make your life a lot easier.  Not only does it allow you to head out for a run first thing in the morning without sharing your crazy bedhead with the rest of the world’s early risers, but it’s a great help in keeping both rain off your face and sun out of your eyes.  I have both a warm skull cap and a breathable cap with bill.  I switch them up depending on the weather and have even worn them together on really cold days.  A lightweight, vented baseball-style cap is a good place to start.  It will help rain roll off of your face on wet days and shield your eyes a bit from spring’s earliest rays of sunshine (without having to yet invest in pricey sunglasses).

A Good Buy:

I often represent one of my local running stores (LYS) during my runs and wear a Brooks-made hat from Portland Running Company.  Check out your LYS, too.

  1. Good Socks

I know that you can get three- or six-packs of standard, white sports socks just about anywhere.  I highly encourage you to get the best quality socks you can get.  This is probably one of the most important parts of building your running gear inventory.  You will be pounding your feet into the ground repeatedly, in a variety of weather elements, and you want to take good care of them.  Making the switch from average, general athletic type socks to socks specifically designed for running was one of the best things I ever did.  I didn’t even know what I was missing until I experienced something different.  Running socks that breathe and provide cushion and support, without bulk, are something special.

My All-Around Favorites:

Oh, Balega, how do I love thee?  Balega socks are the ones I trust the most to keep my feet happy.  They provide a substantial amount of balegaprotection against the harshness of the pavement, while still remaining thin enough to wear comfortably with my Mizunos.  They are my go-tos for all my long runs and my races.

If I was to give a runner-up award in this category it would go to Experia with Thorlo.  These are a bit bulkier than Balegas, but for street runners like myself, offer excellent cushioning.

  1. A durable, strong, comfortable sports bra (guys, feel free to skip this one if you like)

For so many years of my life, one of the reasons I thought I could never be a runner was because of my chest.  Running is high-impact, no doubt about it, and depending on your body type, it can be downright painful to do without the right sports bra.  No pull-over stretchy sports bra I ever tried from any department store or big-box sporting goods stores were ever effective for me.  Most of them come in three sizes only – small, medium, and large.  And, what if your cup size is large, but your band is small?!  There are way more than three sizes of women out there!  It’s downright infuriating.

This is an area to really focus on.  One good quality sports bra can turn you from aspiring runner to inspirational runner.  It’s that important.

My Favorite Hands-Down:

Moving Comfort is incredible.  When I discovered their bras, it was like a moment in a cheesy television show where harps are strummed, a choir sings, and the room is flooded with beautiful light.    These bras fit all shapes and sizes of women’s bodies.  They stay put.  They last through multiple washings.  And, they’re not even that expensive, really.  They rock.  Buy one.  Quickly.

  1. A book

Yes, I’m serious.  Running seams so simple, I know.  But, there’s a lot to it if you want to do it effectively and safely.  There are hundreds of books out there about running.  They cover running form, marathon running, increasing speed, maximizing your diet, preventing injury, and on and on and on.  I’d also be willing to bet that once you start running, you’ll discover how much there is to learn about it.  You’ll start to ask questions and wonder about ‘how to’s’ and ‘what if’s’.  Pick up a beginner’s guide to running and read through it.  Then, keep it on your bookshelf for reference as you advance in your skills.

I Recommend:

I wrote a post about this a while back.  Check out my resources for new runners to learn, be inspired and connect.

Bob Glover’s book was a great beginning book for me.  It covers a lot of topics and was a quick, easy read.

  1. A Training Journal

Some people feel that a training journal is only necessary once you are, you know, training – for a race or a specific goal.  I beg to differ.  Training Log 2Training journals are fantastic tools from the get-go.  They give you a dedicated space to track your runs (and other workouts), times, aches and pains, overall performance, feelings, moods, and sometimes nutrition.  Keeping an eye on this information from the beginning will help you learn how your body is reacting to your new routine.  By periodically looking at this data, you can discover patterns that you have (it helped me learn that Mondays need to be rest days or light workout days for me – I am no good on a Monday run) and respond accordingly.  You can track aches and pains which will help you notice and treat them early on – before they turn in to a sidelining injury.  You can pay attention to how what you eat sits with you during a run and whether you run fresher in the morning, midday or evening.  Essentially, a training journal is one of the most effective tools to helping you coach yourself.  As a bonus, they’re fun to look back on to see what you’ve learned and how you’ve progressed along the way.

My Favorite Training Journal:

There is a variety out there and most any of them would likely serve you well.  Heck, you can even create your own with a basic notebook if you want.  But, for what it’s worth, I like this one by Matt Fitzgerald (running guru).  It has space for all the information that I deem to be important and extra room to write in random notes as needed.  It’s spiral bound for easy flipping and bending and has little tips each week to expand your knowledge and motivation.

There you go.  The basics.  As you progress, there are loads of other fun things to pick up (Sports Watches!  Fuel Belts!  Hydration Packs!  Energy Chews!  Headlamps!) and I’ll likely do a follow-up post about some of these items in the future.  For now, take advantage of spring sales, weather, and energy to get the essentials that will get you started.  I encourage you to look for local running stores in your area and get moving!

Product Review: Chunks of Energy (Raw, Organic, Nutritious, and Definitely Delicious!)

What’s a Chunk of Energy, you ask?  Excellent question.  Until recently, I wasn’t sure either.  Fortunately, I have been educated on the matter.

When I was contacted by the kind folks behind Chunks of Energy, I was intrigued and flattered.  It turns out that the matriarch of this family business came across my blog and thought I sounded like someone who would enjoy these little bites.  They offered to send me some samples to try and invited me to check out their website.

Chunk with card 2 - edited

What I found there was pretty exciting (for someone like me who gets excited over new, healthy eats).  Chunks of Energy is a delightful company that produces tasty, raw, nutrient-packed bite sized snacks that are pretty darn fantastic for people on the go.  They have a number of varieties, all of which are full of natural sweeteners designed to deliver a healthy energy boost.

Personally, as a runner, I was so pleased to see ingredients that I know are great for providing me the fuel I need to log my mileage without sacrificing health.  Dates.  Chia.  Goji Berries.  Apricots.  Seeds.  I could go on, but I’ll let you look for yourself.  Also making me happy is the fact that there are several options for people with specific dietary preferences.  There are dairy-free, soy-free, vegan, gluten-free , and salt-free options.

I taste-tested three varieties:

  • Cacao with Goji Berries – Like your energy with a bit of chocolate on the side?  The cacao in this one can satisfy those who like a chocolaty flavor, for sure, but the addition of the goji berries turns this into a rich little treat.   This one, in my opinion, could almost pass as a dessert-type bite.  Hmm.  Makes me want to crush some up over some non-dairy vanilla ice cream, actually.  I will have to give that a try.
  • Lemon Pomegranate – Wow; this one is refreshing!  The citrus is bright, flavorful, and really feels like a bite of sunshine.  It’s vegan, salt-free, and organic.  I kind of want to enjoy a bite of this flavor alongside my breakfast.  It makes a lovely way to brighten my morning and start the day!
  • Date Flax with Turmeric – This was my favorite of the three.  The sweetness of the date is countered with the earthiness of the turmeric, combining to make a nicely balanced and totally delectable snack.  Plus, for me specifically, these are nutritionally fantastic.  This combination is pretty much ideal for athletes, providing healthy natural fast-releasing energy (dates), healthy fats and oils to lubricate muscles and joints (flax), and inflammation fighting powers (turmeric).  Perfect.

Chunks in bowl edited

Ultimately, I am thrilled with all three flavors that I was able to sample and I can honestly say they have won me over as a customer.  I will be picking up more and trying other flavors out soon.  And, you can, too!  Chunks of Energy are available in the bulk food section of a store near you, and online from the Chunks of Energy website, and a few other online retailers. For more details, visit and fill out the form to find Chunks of Energy “at a store near you.”

Curious to learn more about Chunk of Energy?  The kind folks behind the delicious products invite you to make contact at the Chunks of Energy site (, and/or on facebook (, twitter (, and pinterest (

Disclaimer/Note:  While the Chunks of Energy that I taste-tested were provided to me by the company, I was not compensated for this review and the opinions I express here are totally and completely my own.  I was not obligated to write a review, but chose to do so because I was so legitimately impressed with the products.

Book Review: The Longest Race by Ed Ayers (Psst . . . It’s A Must Read!)

Between books, blogs, magazines, and other miscellaneous articles and essays, I do a lot of reading.  Most of what I read is enjoyable, informative, and worthwhile.  Every so often, though, I am fortunate enough to pick up exactly the right thing at precisely the right time and I read something that just truly resonates with me – something that I know has a meaningful and personal lesson to teach me.  Such was the case with The Longest Race by Ed Ayers.

The Longest Race - Own Photo 2To say that I’ve been on a bit of a personal journey over the last year or two of my life is putting it somewhat mildly (though, aren’t we all in one way or another?).  So much of what I’ve been pondering, exploring, and learning was reflected back at me in Ayers’ book and so many of the values that he holds and articulates in his writing echo my own.  Ayers writes with a profound respect for the sport of running, humankind, animalkind, and the planet as a whole and it is a beautiful thing to read.

The story he tells is of his experience at the 2001 JFK 50-mile ultra-marathon, and this story alone makes for a wonderful read.  As a runner myself (though not an ultra-runner by a long shot), I was drawn in by the tale of endurance.  I certainly learned a bit about running from Ayers and will be applying my new education to my own training.  But, to say that this is a book that is solely about running would be to ignore many of the larger themes in the book.

The Longest Race offers us a glimpse into Ayers’ mind and it is a brilliant place to explore.  His grasp of history, science, and the human condition is evident as he reflects on the past, as it is so boldly laid out before him on the JFK course, as well as on the future, as he considers deeply the connections between people, animals, the environment, and the sustainability of all three.  Ayers also touches here and there on topics such as patience, anxiety, nutrition, and relationships both within the running community and outside of it.

This is an extraordinary tale that I will be reading again.  There were several moments in the book where I was struck by a certain importance of what I was reading to my own current place in life.  I have more to learn from Ayers’ story and I would be willing to make a bet that others do too.

My 5 Favorite All-Natural Snack/Energy Bars

Oh man, are there a lot of snack bars out there.  As most of you probably already know, some of them are fantastic – and many, many of them are crap (both in regards to taste and nutrition).  I know that there are different schools of thought when it comes to snack bars and that some people just avoid them completely, while others can’t get enough.

The fact of the matter is that sometimes a snack bar is just what I need.  Whether it is to provide some fuel pre- or post-workout, to nourish an afternoon hunger pang, or to just get some food on an overly busy day, they do serve their purpose.  In all honesty, I usually eat about one a day.   They’ve become a standard part of my weekday, late-afternoon, pre-workout mini-meal.  Because of this, it has been important to me to find a few brands that I can trust to better (and not harm) my overall health.

All of the brands below feature natural ingredients, minimal processing, and (I think) they taste fantastic.

These never fail me.  Every flavor I’ve had (which is nearly all of them) has been fantastic.  These are chunky nut and fruit bars, so they are going be somewhat higher in fat than some of the others below, due to the high concentration of nuts.  Some are very straightforward (Fruit and Nut), some are sweet and decadent (Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt) and some are ‘plus’ bars, fortified for special nutritional needs (Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants).

Favorite Flavor:  Almond Cashew with Flax + Omega 3s

These bars are made right here in Oregon – and I’m so glad they are or I may never have found them.  They are still a growing company, though you can order online if you can’t find them in your area.  These tasty squares are specifically designed by endurance athletes for endurance athletes.  They are formulated to provide optimal amounts of fats, carbs, and proteins for performance.  These are bars that I don’t eat on just any occasion; rather I have come to consistently rely on them for pre-long run fuel.  I have truly noticed a difference when I eat one of these about 30 minutes before hitting the pavement.

Favorite Flavor:  Smooth Caffeinater

Need some fiber?  Gnu bars have you covered.  These bars are delicious little treats that are perfect for an afternoon snack.  They are focused on providing a significant amount of fiber through bran, oats, psyllium, and other such ingredients.  These come in at only 130-140 calories each, but because of the high fiber content, they really help to keep you full, making them ideal for a between meal snack that tides you over.

 Favorite Flavor:  Blueberry Cobbler Bar or Carrot Cake (I can’t decide!)

These are good, you all!  If you haven’t tried them, they are similar in texture and concept to Luna Bars, but I will venture to say that I find their flavor to be even better.  Vegan, gluten-free, and kosher, these bars are also accessible to just about anyone’s dietary needs.

Favorite Flavor:  Apple Cinnamon or Cherry Cashew or Wild Blueberry (Don’t make me choose!)

Another Oregon-based company!  These are trail bars – intended to be ideal for packing up and taking along on adventures.  As such, they are a bit drier than some of the others, but this means they really do hold up better to be being carted around, thrown in a backpack on a hike, or tucked into a pocket for a bike ride or a long run.  Skout bars provide sustainable energy, and the company donates a portion of their proceeds to environmental and humanitarian charities – an added bonus if you ask me.

Favorite Flavor:  Cherry + Vanilla

Happy healthy snacking!